David Henry’s Candid Photos Capture the Real Paris

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American photographer David Henry gave a presentation of his recent candid photography at Paris Soirées, a social gathering organized each Sunday by Patricia Laplante-Collins.

David Henry Presenting Candid Photographs
Photograph by Maria D'Arcy

The evening began with socializing around wine, cheese, and other beverages and snacks as people arrived in the spacious, former dance studio where Patricia holds her events. Following introductions of each attendee by Patricia, David began his slideshow. While projecting the images on the wall of the darkened room, he gave running commentary on the kinds of shots he tries to capture.

His main theme for the evening was the interesting juxtapositions and seeming relationships that unconnected people can form in a single, candid shot. For example, he showed the image of an elderly lady looking with active interest at his camera, while in the background, sitting at a café table, a young woman’s bored look revealed her obliviousness to the action that was taking place.

Woman Looking at Camera
Photograph by David P. Henry

In another image, the side view of a woman looking down in the foreground and a young girl looking up in the background gave the impression that they were about to kiss, a common form of greeting in France. While watching the presentation, I wondered how David managed to capture these fleeting moments on camera. It is not only because of his practiced eye, but also because he walks around the city with his camera ready. When he sees a shot, he doesn’t hesitate—he takes it immediately.

Two Girls on Rue du Temple
Photography by David P. Henry

On another of his favorite topics, he showed a series of photographs of young, soon-to-be-married men and women dressed in outlandish costumes who were undergoing a curious ritual of public humiliation. Called “enterrement de vie de jeune fille/garçon,” (“burial of the life as a single person”), the celebration marks a major turning point in their lives.

Hot Dog Man
Photograph by David P. Henry

David arrived in Paris in 1996 and soon found work as a photographer. His pictures have been published in numerous books, magazines, and journals, and he was recently (2008) featured on NRJ Paris television. Watch the video of David in action to get an idea of how he works!

David Henry teaches photo workshops in Paris.